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BlizzCon 2021 Cancelled; Global Event Set for Early 2022

BlizzCon

Blizzard Entertainment have announced this year’s physical BlizzCon 2021 has been cancelled, but with a global event set for early 2022.

BlizzCon 2020 was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic; with “BlizzConline” taking place digitally this year on February 19th to 21st. Now BlizzCon Executive Producer Saralyn Smith has confirmed BlizzCon 2021 will suffer a similar fate to last year’s event.

“As guidelines in California around in-person gatherings continue to evolve and the status of the pandemic fluctuates around the globe, the teams across Blizzard have been discussing what this means” Smith explains. She also explains that coordinating “production partners, esports pros, hosts, entertainers, artists, and other collaborators” over many months has been impacted by the pandemic.

“Ultimately we’re now past the point where we’d be able to develop the kind of event we’d want to create for you in November.” In not so many words, Smith has confirmed the cancellation of BlizzCon 2021 due to the event not meeting their own standards.

Smith follows up, stating “we’re planning a global event for the early part of next year, combining an online show along the lines of our recent BlizzConline with smaller in-person gatherings, and we’ll share more as our plans come together.”

 

Despite announcements and releases such as Overwatch 2, World of Warcraft: ShadowlandsWorld of Warcraft: Classic – The Burning Crusade, Diablo IV and Diablo II: Resurrected; Blizzard Entertainment has had more than its fair share of bad PR over the last few years. A cancelled event may be a blessing, or hinder announcements that could turn their fortunes around.

Starting with recent affairs, monthly active users in Blizzard Entertainment games have fallen to 27 million this fiscal quarter; a 29% drop over three years. Blizzard Entertainment Vice President and Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan also left the company in late April, casting doubt on Overwatch 2. Michael Chu, the Lead Writer for Overwatch and Overwatch 2, also left in March 2020.

Blizzard Entertainment also replaced Kael’thas’ voice actor Quinton Flynn in World of Warcraft, likely due to allegations of sexual misconduct. This was in spite of a judge’s ruling the allegations were falsified by an obsessive stalker.

Players of the Diablo II: Resurrected alpha test were outraged over the censorship of the Amazon, along with other characters and pre-release footage. Employees had also been reportedly dissatisfied with pay and pay rises [12].

Warcraft III: Reforged‘s launch was nothing short of a disaster; including poor graphics, stripping away many online elements, and a new EULA effectively banning many custom maps and game modes- along with making said game modes property of Blizzard Entertainment. All of this also replaced the original Warcraft III in an update (with the ability to toggle between the old and new graphics).

The user review score on Metacritic was so low, it end up becoming the lowest user-rated game on the review aggregate website at the time of its launch.

The announcement of Diablo Immortal for smartphones was also poorly received; with one attendee of Blizzcon 2018 asking during a Q&A session “is this an out of season April Fool’s joke?” The game’s announcement came prior to even rumors of Diablo II: Resurrected or Diablo IV. 

The biggest incident in the last few years was how Blizzard Entertainment suspended pro-Hearthstone player Blitzchung for his support of the Hong Kong protests, fired the casters, and their overall handing of the entire debacle.

This was only made worse when Blizzard’s Chinese social media further condemned Blitzchung and stated We will always respect and defend the pride of our country.” In addition Overwatch Esports Assistant Coach Justin “Jayne” Conroy was forced to delete a tweet condemning Blizzard’s actions.

Fans turned Overwatch character Mei into a symbol of the Hong Kong protestsHearthstone caster Brian Kibler quit the tournament, former Blizzard Producer Mark Kern joined the Boycott Blizzard movement, Blizzard employees walked out in protest, a collegiate tournament team was banned for conducting a similar protest (after the team complained they were not banned initially), and even US Senators condemned Blizzard’s actions in an open letter to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.

Blizzard finally released a statement, revealing they had returned Blitzchung’s confiscated prize money and reduced his suspension time. The statement also claimed that “relationships in China had no influence on our decision.” 

We looked into the financials of parent company Activision Blizzard to see if that was the case. Tencent owns 5% of Activision Blizzard, with profits from China making up less than 13% of their total.


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Taking his first steps onto Route 1 and never stopping, Ryan has had a love of RPGs since a young age. Now he's learning to appreciate a wider pallet of genres and challenges.